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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NBA Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn Explains Some of Game Five's Controversial Calls

There has been a lot of discussion about three controversial calls at the end of game five of the NBA Finals. NBA Director of Officials Ronnie Nunn appeared Tuesday night on "NBA TV Insiders" and explained what he saw on each of the plays:

1) Dallas owner Mark Cuban suggested that Dwyane Wade committed a backcourt violation by jumping from the frontcourt to the backcourt to catch an inbounds pass at the end of overtime. Nunn said that during the last two minutes of the fourth quarter and any overtime sessions that players are allowed to do this. So, Wade's move may have been a violation had it occurred earlier in the game but not at that stage of the game.

2) Later on the same play, Dirk Nowitzki was whistled for a foul against Wade, but many observers felt that the contact was marginal at best. Nunn said that Nowitzki placed his hand on Wade's back and that it was clearly a foul. He also said that Devin Harris fouled Wade earlier on the play and that when Jason Terry fell at midcourt that Terry slipped and was not pushed by Wade. Nunn said that the fact that the officials called a foul on a star like Nowitzki at the end of the game disproves the notion that officials swallow their whistles at the end of games and/or will not call fouls on superstars.

3) A lot of attention has been focused on the Mavericks calling their last timeout before Wade's second free throw instead of after it, when Dallas could have advanced the ball and had a decent chance to get off a shot. Nunn said that Dallas Coach Avery Johnson clearly signaled for a timeout on the sideline and that Josh Howard twice signaled for a timeout on the court and that Dallas players began moving toward the sideline. In such a case the timeout call must be granted. Nunn acknowledged that if there is some confusion that an official may ask if the team really wants a timeout but, "In this case, there was no confusion. There was an overt request."

Here is my take on these three situations:

1) This is clearly explained in the rulebook, so no one can disagree with Nunn about it.

2) Nunn's explanation makes sense, but the contact looked pretty marginal. I'm not sure how it can be argued that Terry simply slipped but that Nowitzki's touch had that dramatic of an effect on Wade's shot. I'm not saying that it was a bad call and I certainly do not buy into any idea that there is some kind of conspiracy but I don't think that call is consistent with the way the rest of that game was officiated.

3) In a "by the book" sense it may be correct that the timeout had to be granted but it is so obvious that Dallas would not want a timeout before the second free throw that some leeway should have been allowed here. Johnson insists that he was not signaling for a timeout at that point but that he was alerting his players to call one after the second free throw. He immediately said that to the officials as well. Since Nunn admitted that officials can use their discretion if there is some confusion Dallas should have been given the benefit of the doubt.

posted by David Friedman @ 12:36 AM


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At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 1:16:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey man, i just wanted to thank you for picking against the Heat all through the playoffs. Worked like a charm. ;) Miami Heat 2006 Champions!

At Wednesday, June 21, 2006 1:21:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I wish I had that kind of power; then I would pick against the Cleveland Browns and maybe they would finally win a Super Bowl :)


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